Tag Archives: Kids Are Heroes

Maddie’s Blankets

Maddie’s Blankets

Anyone can make a difference.  However, it is sometimes hard to find an organization that has volunteer opportunities for young kids.  Today’s organization was founded by someone who struggled to find a way to give back, so she made a way.

When Maddie Pelgrim was 10 years old, she was looking for somewhere to volunteer but could not find opportunities for kids her age except for fundraising.  She had “no allowance, no job, and hadn’t won the lottery, so clearly fundraising was not [her] thing.”  She was very persistent and found a job cleaning animal cages once a week with her mom for the Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation.  This was not her ideal way of giving back, so she kept her eyes open for other opportunities.  One night she noticed that the cats had just a thin towel or pillowcase to sleep on.  She was curious if this was comfortable so she climbed into a cage and curled up.  It only took her about five seconds to know that she was going to make a difference for these animals by making blankets for them.  Since its founding, Maddie’s Blankets has expanded to also make blankets for children in foster care and transitional housing situations.

Maddie’s Blankets is based in Oakton, Virginia and has a mission to provide kids, senior citizens, and disabled individuals an opportunity to perform community service.  In 2009, the organization became a 501c3 nonprofit as a gift to Maddie from her grandfather.

As of March of 2011, Maddie’s Blankets has donated 8000 blankets in Virginia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Georgia, California, and Kansas by working with Girl Scout troops, church youth groups, and other community groups.  She expects to reach 10,000 blankets in December of 2012.

Maddie has received numerous stories from those who have adopted animals from a shelter that received a blanket along with their pet as well as thank you letters from the rescue organizations.  One such note posted on their Facebook page said “Thank you again for the beautiful blankets that our rescue puppies just love! It’s a little piece of home that goes with them when they get adopted.”  One young girl dragged her mother to the location that received the blanket she made until she found it in a cage.  Then she called Maddie and said, “I found my blankets – this is totally awesome.”  In addition, the police officers, foster care organizations, and low-income daycare providers who have given Maddie’s Blankets to children all rave about them and request more.

How can you help?

  • Monetary donations are accepted on the organization’s website.  One hundred percent of the donations go toward purchasing fleece for the blankets.
  • If you live in the Oakton, Virginia area, you can contact Maddie to offer your help preparing the blankets.
  • Groups can also volunteer to assemble blankets.  Maddie will travel to make blankets with your group.  She has gone to senior citizen homes, churches, Girl Scout meetings, and other places where people want to volunteer.
  • The organization also accepts donations of fleece.  If you have fleece to donate, you can mail it to PO Box 447, Oakton, VA 22124.

You can learn more about Maddie’s Blankets on her website,  You can also follow them on Facebook and contact Maddie via e-mail.

Related Posts: Doing Good Together, Habits of Kindness, and Volunteen Nation


On December, 19, 2012, Maddie’s Blankets received their 10,000th blanket!  Below is a photo of Susannah Bianco, the maker of the 10,000th blanket with Maddie Pelgrim, the founder of Maddie’s Blankets.

10000th blanket

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Posted by on December 18, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Balls Go Round

Each year over 300 million tennis balls are made each year.  The US Open alone goes through 70,000 tennis balls each year!  After a while the balls lose their bounce and are no longer usable for the sport.  I am sure some can come up with creative ways to reuse the old balls, but you can only go so far.  Today’s organization is helping those balls get new life!

Balls Go Round is an organization dedicated to collecting, recycling and reusing recreational balls in order to help needy organizations and youth programs throughout the United States.  The organization was founded in 2007 by brother-sister team Jeffrey and Karly Krasnow. 

The idea for this organization came to them while competing in United States Tennis Association (USTA) matches in New York City.  With each match, they were required to throw away the used balls and open a new can of balls.  This would happen at hundreds (or even thousands) of USTA matches across the country.  They knew this was also happening at country clubs and tennis centers. 

Balls Go Round collects the used balls and redistributes them to other organizations such as animal shelters, occupational therapy centers, and youth programs where the balls are reused as animal toys, hand therapy tools, and of course to play tennis.  Since their founding, they have been able to get 100,000 balls collected and redistributed.

In addition, Balls Go Round has been able to recharge over 3,000 balls via reBounces to extend their life even longer.

How can you help?

If you live near their Vero Beach, Florida headquarters, you can offer to assist with labeling recycled balls with the Balls Go Round logo for various, managing their database and helping pickup and recycle donated balls. 

For others, Balls Go Round can help you contact country clubs and other places throwing away dead tennis balls and help link you with organizations that may be a great beneficiary of the balls.  Local youth programs, nursing homes, and animal shelters are just a few examples. 

You can learn more about Balls Go Round on their website,  You can also connect with them via e-mail,, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Related Post: Kids Are Heroes also recently wrote about the founders of Balls Go Round

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Posted by on July 11, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Tatum’s Bags of Fun

In previous posts we have highlighted organizations such as Camp Get-A-Well-A and Sweet Dreams for Kids that make a hospital stay a bit better for kids.  Today’s organization has a similar mission.

Tatum’s Bags of Fun is a 501c3 non-profit based in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Their mission is to make a positive impact on the lives of every child diagnosed with cancer in Indiana (and beyond).  They do this by supplying a backpack filled with $350 worth of age-appropriate games, toys, and activities ideal for a hospital setting.  This helps to entertain and distract the children during their long and difficult battle with cancer.  Each year almost 300 children are diagnosed with a form of cancer in Indiana alone and since August 2008, Tatum’s Bags of Fun has been able to distribute over 900 bags of fun to children throughout the state.

Tatum is the 11-yr old fifth grade student and a two-time cancer survivor that is behind this organization.  In July 2006 Tatum was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare bone tumor, in her right femur.  She endured 13 rounds of chemotherapy and 3 major surgeries.  Tatum and her family received a tremendous amount of support from friends, family and the community during her treatment.  One of the gifts she received was a “Bag of Fun” from the Gabby Krause Foundation in Colorado.  Gabby lost her fight with cancer in 2004, but her family started the Gabby Krause Foundation in her memory and “Bags of Fun” was their signature project.  Tatum and her family were so moved by the gift and the concept that they began speaking with the Krause’s about bringing Bags of Fun to Indiana.  On August 1, 2008 a little over a year after Tatum completed her first battle with cancer, her family began distributing Bags of Fun.

Unfortunately Tatum was re-diagnosed with Ewing’s in November 2008, this time in her right lung.  Even though this was another setback, Tatum remained positive and confident she would beat cancer again.  Bags of Fun also provided an opportunity for Tatum to personally deliver Bags of Fun to her new friends that she would be fighting with.  Tatum completed her treatments in September 2009 and has remained cancer free!

Each Bag of Fun is provided to pediatric cancer patients free of charge and is theirs to keep.  The bags are delivered weekly to several Indiana hospitals.  Through an arrangement with the hospital, Tatum’s Bags of Fun receives a list of new patients including their ages and initials.  This allows them to abide by HIPPA regulations and ensure that each child receives just one bag filled with items that are age appropriate.   If the patient has a sibling, a game or toy is also provided to them. With toys and activities that are chosen by same age children, the Bags of Fun provides a way for kids to keep busy and happy during their hospital visits.

On the organization’s blog, you can see some thank yous that have been sent.  One mom said that it made her daughter’s day to get such a wonderful gift and another bag recipient said “no words that I can explain my appreciation and thanks”.

Monetary donations can be made directly on the organization’s website.

You can learn more about Tatum’s Bags of Fun on their website,  You can also connect with them on Twitter, Facebook or their blog.


Posted by on January 25, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Help Harry Help Others

Kids Are Heroes is an organization that highlights kids who have done great volunteer work.  In the past we have profiled kids that were featured on the Kids Are Heroes site.  Harry Moseley is one such hero who left a legacy.

Harry’s story began in 2007 when he had problems with his eyes.  After many visits to the optician and the local hospital, the doctors gave him an MRI scan and discovered a brain tumor.  The tumor was in a dangerous place, deep in his brain, so it was inoperable.  Harry began chemotherapy treatments but unfortunately it didn’t work and his tumor grew.  His only other option was radiotherapy.  It was during these treatments that he met Robert Harley who was also having radiotherapy for a brain tumor. They had their treatment on the same day, every day for six weeks so they became very good friends.  In 2009 Robert became very ill so Harry decided to make and sell beaded bracelets to raise money for brain cancer research to help make him better.  Sadly four weeks into his campaign, his friend Robert died at only 55 years old.  Harry wanted to continue selling bracelets in Robert’s memory and to help make sure that no one else would have to go through what they did.

Harry continued regular checkups to monitor the size of his tumor.  It remained stable for two years but unfortunately, his health took a turn for the worse in July 2011 when he developed a blood clot on his brain.  He had an emergency operation on August 10th and remained in a coma for over eight weeks.  On October 7th, doctors advised Harry’s family to bring him home to rest.  Harry passed away peacefully in his mother’s arms on October 8th.  Harry’s campaign, however, continues to live on in his memory.

The mission of Help Harry Help Others is to raise as much money as possible to help fund brain cancer research and to raise awareness.  At the heart of this mission are Harry’s beautiful bracelets which act as a symbol for Harry, his campaign and what it seeks to achieve.  It was Harry’s dream that everyone in the United Kingdom would be wearing one of his bracelets.

In April 2011, Help Harry Help Others partnered with Cancer Research UK. As a result, the campaign now largely functions out of their head offices in Angel, London.

How can you help?

Help Harry Help Others welcomes all the support they are offered.  Volunteers have been key to helping raise money for the campaign.  They have opportunities locally for individuals or groups to fundraise for the campaign.  These fundraisers aren’t just limited to bracelet sales, previous groups have done bake sales, live music events, runs, and even jumping out of an airplane.  They also have a team of volunteers who help with bracelet production.

For those who live further away, you can still run a fundraiser and make your donation online or via the mail.  The organization’s website has a fundraiser pack available for download.  Anyone can also purchase bracelets online.

Harry’s organization has sold over 40,000 bracelets and raised over £185,000 (or about $280,000) for brain tumor research.  You can learn more about Help Harry Help Others on their website,  You can also connect with them on Facebook or Twitter.

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Posted by on January 4, 2012 in Nonprofit Organization


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Racing for a Cause

Since starting The Blogunteer, I have connected with several organizations and individuals that I wouldn’t have met otherwise.  One of those organizations is Kids Are Heroes, an organization dedicated to promoting and inspiring young volunteers.  You can read more about them in the profile we wrote in November 2010

Today we profile Ricky Springer – one of the many heroes from the Kids Are Heroes organization.

When asked about what he would recommend for first time volunteers, Ricky mentions the same thing I have heard from seasoned volunteers, “I think you should find an organization with a cause that you are passionate about.  It is so much easier to put time in and make a difference when you believe in what you are doing.”  This is just what Ricky has done.  He founded the Racing for a Cause campaign, a direct fundraising and awareness campaign of the American Partnership for Eosinophilic Disorders (APFED) when he was only 7 years old. 

Ricky was born with an Eosinophilic Gastrointestinal Disorder called Eosinophilic Colitis.  Ricky states, “For the first 21 months of my life I was seen by 14 pediatricians, 2 Allergists and 2 Gastroenterologists who were unable to diagnosis my illness.  Thanks to the wonderful volunteers at APFED, my parents were able to find a doctor who could help me.” 

Since that time, Ricky’s mom has volunteered for APFED.  Ricky also began using his dirt track go-kart racing as a platform to educate others and raise money to support APFED.  In 2009, the Racing for a Cause Campaign was founded when Ricky was only 7 years old.  Ricky put the APFED logo on his kart and asked people to make donations to APFED based on my racing finishes.  Ricky says, “My campaign has just continued to grow bigger and bigger since then.  Since we started the Racing for a Cause campaign we have educated over 2.6 Million people about Eosinophilic Disorders.  We will never know how many people we have actually helped find answers and treatment, but knowing that we are making a difference is all that matters.”  Ricky has spread the word through media opportunities and a major fundraising event.

APFED is a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to patients and their families coping with Eosinophilic Disorders.  APFED strives to expand education, create awareness and fund research while promoting advocacy among its members.

You can help Ricky and Racing for a Cause by spreading the word and helping them reach more people.  You can learn more about Eosinophilic Disorders and APFED’s work at  You can also make a donation to APFED on their website.  In addition, you could become a Racing for a Cause sponsor

Learn more about Racing for a Cause on their website,  You can also follow Racing for a Cause on Facebook or Twitter.


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One More Generation

My daughter loves animals.  She reads about them, has animal toys, and enjoys visits to the zoo.  But like most young kids, that is as far as it goes.  The organization we profile today was started by two young kids that took their passion about animals to another level.

Carter (age 9.5) and his sister Olivia (age 8) are so passionate about wanting to make a difference that they started their own organization called One More Generation (OMG).

The two students have been adopting Cheetahs through the Ann Van Dyk Cheetah Centre in South Africa for years.  In the fall of 2009, the kids asked why some animals needed adopting, and they learned that there might not be any Cheetahs left in the wild by the time they had their own kids.  Well that was all it took for these two kids to spring into action.  They started the One More Generation organization in late 2009.

Since starting OMG, Carter and Olivia have been involved in numerous initiatives both locally and globally. 

  • The pair took a trip to the Gulf where they delivered badly needed Animal Rescue Supplies to the Marine Mammal & Sea Turtle Rescue Center in New Orleans.  You can read all about the trip and even watch a video on their website
  • They are working with the State Legislature of Georgia to change the legislative language in current law to help stop Rattlesnake Roundups in their state.  
  • They are working to raise $50,000 for a Cheetah Rescue program in South Africa run by the Ann Van Dyke Cheetah Center. 
  •  They are working with various organizations to help raise awareness to the plight of the many endangered species around the globe including an educational program that they present to the visitors of the Atlanta Zoo, The Fernbank Museum in Atlanta, the Georgia Aquarium, The Atlanta Botanical Garden, and the Cochran Mill Nature Center.
  • They recently hosted a “water event” where they discussed the importance of water on all living things.  They also partnered with the Ryan’s Well, an organization that helps build water wells for poor villages around the world to ensure everyone has access to clean drinking water.   

Carter and Olivia have also received great recognition for their work.  They recently won the Grand Prize in a Nestles Heroes Contest, they were honored as guest speakers at Kids Are Heroes Day 2010, and they were just invited to be guest speakers at the Caring for Creation 2011 Conference at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.

You can help the OMG Foundation by making a donation on the donation page of their website.  You can also support them by making a purchase of a mug or shirt from their online store.  In addition, you can help spread the word about their efforts by sharing this post (click here to tweet this post).

I have listed just some of Carter and Olivia’s recent accomplishments here, but you can learn more on the OMG Foundation website or by reading their profile on the Kids Are Heroes website.  You can also like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.


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Jason O’Neill

The  Blogunteer recently profiled the Kids Are Heroes organization and has profiled many of their heroes in the past.  Today we profile another hero, Jason O’Neill, a young entrepreneur with a giving spirit!

When Jason was only nine years old, he wanted make a product to sell at a craft fair.  He wanted a product that could make homework more fun.  The idea of the Pencil Bug was born.  With the help of his parents, Jason made his first Pencil Bug.  The bugs caught on very quickly he was soon busy taking orders and making new bugs on a regular basis.  Since then, Jason has also added t-shirts, laminated bookmarks, and greeting cards to his product line up.

But, this isn’t the real reason that the Blogunteer has chosen to profile Jason.  Since he started his business in 2005, he has been making donations to help other kids.  The first charity he selected was the HUGS Foster Family Agency where he lives.  Since 2008, Jason has been donating to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, California.  Each quarter he makes a unique donation for the kids in the hospital, including activity bags, toys, board games, crayons, coloring books, books, teddy bears, puzzles, and more!

This past weekend, Jason delivered more bears to the Rady Children’s Hospital!  For a video, please check out Jason’s website.

When asked about why he is involved with the Children’s Hospital, Jason says, “Most people think that I was probably in the hospital for one reason or another and that’s why I chose them.  The truth is, I have always been healthy, never had a broken bone and have never been in the hospital.  But I know there are some kids who aren’t as fortunate and can’t help that they have illnesses or injuries so I thought I could do my part and buy toys, games, books, and other activities for the kids that might help their stay in the hospital not so bad.”

Jason describes the teddy bear collection he started in 2009 as his most rewarding volunteer experience.  “My goal was 250 bears.  By the beginning of November, I had raised enough money (including my own from my Pencil Bugs business) to buy 400 teddy bears.  I thought that was a lot and was really happy.  Then the week of Thanksgiving, I was interviewed on the NBC news station in San Diego.  The very next day, my story hit MSN’s home page and donations started pouring in from all over the world.  Within a week or so, I had raised over $5,000 which allowed me to buy 1800 teddy bears — just a few more than my original goal.  We tied a donation tag on EACH bear with the person’s name who donated money.  It was a lot of work but definitely worth it.”

You can help Jason with his cause by purchasing Pencil Bugs products or his book, “Bitten By the Business Bug” from his website,  You can also follow Jason’s blog or connect with him on Twitter or Facebook to keep up to date with his fundraisers and projects.

Jason not only makes his own donations, he also encourages others to give.  “I think donating is just a part of life. If you can help someone else in some way, then people should.  A lot of people think you need to give a lot in order for it to count so if they can’t, they don’t do anything. I always remind people that even the smallest effort can make a huge difference in someone else’s life and a lot of times, you may not even know how you affect them but it still counts.”

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Posted by on December 21, 2010 in Volunteer Profile


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